The only place where I do not like to see semicolons is in dialogue. Here they simply strike me as pretentious. Topic for a new poll?
I tend to use a semi colon rather than a comma to connect two sentences which are dealing with the same thought. I know the comma will do; however, to me, the semi colon provides slightly better cue to the reader that there should be a unity between two grammatical sentences which a period would not provide.
The issue of the semi-colon is, without doubt, syntactical as much as, if not more than, a matter of individual preference, surely this is the case, as run-on sentences in which commas separate, and individuate and yet connect, without impeding flow, can result in cognitive overload and coma, known in medical circles as "comma coma," in which the afflicted and affected individual becomes "commatose."
A semi-colon affects the colon and does not result in the individual becoming commatose. You get a stomach ache but you are not brain dead.
Did Vonnegut say that? In throwing a dart at the semicolon, he attempts to enlist bigots to his cause by throwing three more, at transvestites, hermaphrodites, and people who have been to college. All that heat against a simple punctuation mark that, sure, can be replaced by periods or dashes but often does the job much better. What would he do to connect a series of phrases containing commas? Rephrase? So much work just to shove it to those damnable college people!
I'm not a big fan of semicolons in print or online writing, so I guess I'm with the pirate king. The semicolon is kind of useless and can be easily replaced with a period. (I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who said in A Man Without a Country, "Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.)
What?! What difference does it make whether the writing is online or on paper? The entire works of Charles Dickens are online. The Declaration of Independence is online. But even considering that not all online writing is at the same level of formality, sometimes the semicolon is the right tool for the job, even in a casual email or Twitter post.
I'm with the pirate king!