I like the clever play on words in this headline -- Fanfare for the Comma Man -- and the article is pretty interesting, too. The writer, a university of Delaware English professor, correctly notes that the use of punctuation evolves over time and that often what's used is a matter of personal preference as much as the rules of grammar. The evolution has been speeded up considerably by -- well, you know what:
You see this kind of thing all over the Internet as well. People punctuate that way because, if they spoke these sentences, they’d pause after the conjunction (and because the extremely fanciful and undependable Microsoft Word grammar and style checker refrains from applying a squiggly green underline).
My students are, not illegitimately, making a grammatical transformation as well: turning the conjunctions into what are called “sentence adverbs” — words like “Presumably,” “However” and, yes, “Hopefully” that are followed by commas when they start sentences. Punctuation rules may and probably will change accordingly. But they haven’t yet, and I tell my students to lose the comma.
I guess I've been a bit of a nitpicky purist when it comes to punctuation, and I've noticed in my own writing evolution I've followed the trend of "fewer is better" when it comes to commas. But, rightly or wrongly, I still sometimes use punctuation for the effect I want to have on readers rather than to follow the strict rules of grammar. And one thing I really haven't totally given up (despite being pounded on it regularly by my first boss here) is what may be called the "breath-pause comma." If it seems natural in speaking to pause after an introductory clause, it seems natural to put a comma there, too.