For better or worse, Wikipedia--the online reference site that lets anyone add to its ever-growing body of knowledge--has changed the nature of internet research. Now Google is taking the wraps off a free internet encyclopedia of its own, designed to give people a chance to show off--and profit from--their expertise on any topic.

The service, dubbed "knol" in reference to a unit of knowledge, had been limited to an invitation-only audience of contributors and readers for the past seven months.

Now anyone with a Google login will be able to submit an article and, if they choose, have ads displayed through the


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