"I asked and they answered."
Translation:Я спросила, и они ответили.
Hmm. Could you please take a screenshot, put it onto some free file-sharing server and provide a link? I see both options in the database of correct answers. My actual suspicion is that you've made some other typo, in this case Duo may show a correct version that is not nearest to what you had in mind.
Assuming there were more than one question but the amount not specified, you'd better use imperfectives: "Я спрашивала, а они отвечали".
If the number of questions is specified (from 1 to ∞), it'd be more natural to : "Я спросила ("задала" is more recommended) три (3) вопроса, а они (colleagues) ответили на семнадцать (17)".
Saying "Я спрашивала двенадцать (12) вопросов, а они отвечали" means there is a set of questions provided by your company that you need to ask all your clients. There are other situations you can use different forms in, but unless you speak and think in russian fluently, you don't really need it.
In this particular context, imperfective form strongly suggests iterativity, i.e. a repeated action. I guess if you use an interative form (спрашивала), which means "i was/kept asking questions", you'd normally expect many answers, not just one, as the perfective (hence: non-iterative) "ответили" would suggest. Rather a semantic rather than grammatical issue here.
As 2E3S has a point, I feel obliged to specify my answer further. Imperfective verbs in Slavic may usually be interpreted either as durative (there was something being done for some time without accomplishing it) or iterative (an action was repeated). Here both interpretations are valid. Some verbs are iterative only, for instance «быва́ть» which is impf iterative of «быть», which can be both. Same for «есть» & «еда́ть» and some others.
Okay, I didn't know that this form exists. But don't use "едать" as a reaction would be the same. Unless you want to imitate old russian speech. Same for "игрывать". Without looking at a dictionary these sound like "foreign" mistakes of which I was sure about.
Thank you, this was some interesting piece of information and intuitively I've guessed about it already.
Of course there is едать. At least according to any major dictionary in existence: http://dic.academic.ru/searchall.php?SWord=%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8Cfrom=xxto=rudid=stype= as well as Google (28 700 hits).
There are 7 specific aspects in Russian, called Aktionsarten in linguistics. It's not unnatural for a word to have more than one perfective or imperfective form. So you have triplets like играть/игрывать – сиграть (2 impf) or кашлять – кашлнуть/закашлять (2 pf), but also quadruplets (идти – пойти – ходить – походить (2v2)), quintuplets (едать – есть – съесть – съедать – поесть (3v2)) and even sextuplets at times.
However, "я спрашивала и они ответили" seems sufficiently appropriate to say for a native. I don't agree with "In this particular context, imperfective form strongly suggests iterativity". On the contrary, in this particular context it's not iterative at all. "я спрашивала и они отвечали" would be.
I never said this is the only interpretation, nor the best one. This is always what natives of Slavic languages have a slightly different intuition for. I still think this is what the original intention was—to distinguish between pf/impf. Not being a native of Russian, but a speaker of several Slavic languages, to me "I was asking and they answered" is what comes as a second interpretation after "She asked [multiple] questions, and they answered [to each of them]" in terms of likelihood.