- Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said teachers who refuse younger students access to the site are "bad educators".
Speaking at the Online Information conference at London's Olympia, he played down the long-running controversy over the site's authority.
He said young students should be able to reference the online encyclopaedia in their work.
Mr Wales said the site, which is edited by users, should be seen as a "stepping stone" to other sources.
As long as an article included accurate citations, he said he had "no problem" with it being used as a reference for younger students, although academics would "probably be better off doing their own research".
"You can ban kids from listening to rock 'n' roll music, but they're going to anyway," he added. "It's the same with information, and it's a bad educator that bans their students from reading Wikipedia."
In 2005, at the height of the controversy over the site's accuracy, Mr Wales told the BBC that students who copied information from Wikipedia "deserved to get an F grade".
Mr Wales said the website still lacked the authority to be used as a citeable source for college-aged and university students.
But he said new editing and checking procedures had made Wikipedia more trustworthy....