After much thinking and reflection, here are the guidelines to commenting:
Anyone, including the combatants may post. Good-natured ribbing and taunting, questions about the Topic if unclear and general cheerleading and smack talking goes here. The only exception is that the Judges for the battle at hand may not reveal that they have been activated to Judge. As always, what Judges are active is to remain secret until the battle is over and the Judges' Comments go up.
Openings, Rebuttals and Closings
Only the readers may post. If the combatants post, it is only to congratulate the other for a good battle, acknowledge a good shot and so forth. In other words, no addressing the readers, no debating each other in the comments - save it for the battle. Readers may post thoughts, critiques and comments so long as they are not rude, personal attacks or blatantly aiding one of the combatants over the other
. What's rude? Telling everyone how disappointed you are in X's post, how X utterly failed, how X had great style, but unfortunately no substance/whatever. That's condescending and generally rude. Saying "I thought that X could have handled Y better," or "X left the door open for Z..." is fine. Be constructive and supportive in your criticism, not 'disappointed', 'dismayed', 'disgusted' or any other 'dissing'. And try to have something good to say while you're at it. Can't say something nice? Don't say anything at all. I reserve the right to edit posts if they cross the line from critique to snark and will not hesitate to do so. What's aiding the combatant? Blatantly or obviously telling them exactly how to destroy their opponent. Critique is fine. If you want to rebut someone, sign up and be a combatant, yourself.
Judges' Comments and Verdict
Here, anyone can post. Combatants can ask Judges questions, address commenters if they like, or even each other. KEEP IT CIVIL. Follow the previous section on etiquette and play nice. As Rufus said in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", be excellent to each other.
That's about it. Questions, comments, etc., put 'em below.