"Wikipedia is gaining some traction in college classrooms. Many professors encourage their pupils to use the site as a catalyst for their research, claiming the footnotes can serve as valuable primary sources that can be cited in their own work, or at least might provide a stepping stone to such a source. “I do not permit my students to cite Wikipedia as a source,” says Karl Kehm, associate professor of physics at Washington College. “[However], I do encourage them to use it as one of many launch points for pursuing original source material. The best Wikipedia entries are well researched with extensive citations."
Look, I don’t get the kerfluffle about Wikipedia. This is exactly how it should be used. You should not be able to cite Wikipedia in an academic paper. You should be able to use it as a starting point for research, however.
And this is true for any encyclopedia. I wouldn’t accept Brittanica as a primary source from my students. Because it’s an encyclopedia. And I’ve never considered encyclopedias to be primary sources; merely compasses to new and better information.