A Semi-Accurate
History of ERBList

David Bruce "Tangor" Bozarth

From a message posted to ERBList November 11, 2001

In June 1996 I started messaging with a fellow (Hadron) who holds the title of ERBList Founding Father #2 (me being #1, natch!). Within a month our then very crude private cc: email list had grown to a dozen ERB madmen...one of which was Robert "Sheeta" Miller who passed away 1998.12.25. Steve Armstrong (original tarzan.com owner and member 16 or so) offered our group a listserv at tarzan.com to make joining and leaving easier--and to cut down on missed messages or duplicate messages. I held a contest to name the new listserv which officially debuted January 1997. Some were interesting, some less interesting, but FF#1's ERBList beat out the others by group vote, though FF#2 still seems partial to his submission: "Tangor's Dancing Panthans." :)

erblist@tarzan.com was our growth days, membership rose from 20 to nearly 100 in less than six months. The first cross-over subscribers from ERBCOF-L, Jim "OJT" Thompson's Edgar Rice Burroughs Chain of Friendship List (born August 1996 IIRC), discovered the wacky, funny, scholastic-when-we-had-something-to-chew-on ERBList membership where a great many ideas, speculations, research, queries, and discussions eventually spawned a number of great web sites, articles for the BB, ERB fanzines, or pastiches. Alas, tarzan.com was taken over by ERB Inc and ERBList was forced into moving to beginners.net, a server owned by a local computer competitor (I'm in the computer biz as well as recently expanding into the book biz) who provided access gratis. ERBList's growth spurt continued, soon breaking 200 members and boy did the messages fly! In fact, message volume began to drive subscribers away until a DIGEST version of ERBList was made available. Whew!

Approximately a year later beginners.net began having server and administrator difficulties. ERBList had two other server changes, the next occurring when Worldnet and I had a falling out and the group moved to erblist@pdq.net. On this server ERBList achieved a milestone of 50,000 messages since inception and continues to be the server for the ERBList web presence. Sadly, however, it was on the pdq.net server that membership began to markedly slide as folks moved, moved on, or simply vanished as valid email addresses--260, 225, 187, 148... By the time ERBList recently moved to erb-list@erblist.com (a high speed system) membership had declined to 133 (as of tonight, including DIGEST members).

ERBList moved to erb-list@erblist.com and was now wholly and completely supported on Tangor-owned systems. Membership eventually reached 267, the message volume became killer (up to 100 messages per day!), and the ideas and discussions were broad and exciting. This was the same time period when Tangor finally clubbed CREATION/EVOLUTION, AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, RELIGION and most things LAWYERLY unless able to link the above to ERB's life or works. Since then Tangor's Club has gathered dust, though the memory of that time--and the continuing myth of that mighty club--gave us a forum where anyone may speak, all viewpoints are considered, and discussion occurs with respect to one another.

(Uh, Tangor?)

[What? I'm busy!]

(We've always had respect for one another.)

[And your point is?]

(Well, you're painting a picture that...)

[So? It's my picture. Go away, don't bother me.]

Over the years I've met some wonderful people who came to play at my little playground. Many have stayed since the park opened and become more treasured every year. Some moved on because of volume or burnout and have remained occasional friends, or departed because of butting heads with Tangor over (not so) silly things like copyright, moderation, list flooding, or simple differences of opinion. Time has mellowed msny of these differences and in general both ERB listservers, which are complements to each other not competitors, were immensely enriched by dealing with these differences. Ordinary and commonsense guidelines were jointly established which continue to benefit all.

ERBList began to explore new ground: "How can we make a difference?" ERBList got a web presence, the Hall of Memory, Links, etc. Fan Fiction (pastiches) found a forum. David Adams made a suggestion which resulted in the unique and invaluable ERBList Summary Project, Tangor and Nkima's Ranking and the Novel Rankings provide new and continually updated insight in ERB's popularity, but the first ground broken has remained the distinctive core of ERBList: the use of ERB Personas.

ERB personas (ERB character names one uses as their own when posting messages) is not a requirement, yet is the most distinctive flavor of ERBList messaging. If not for the fact that FF#1 and FF#2 have the same name (Bruce) which resulted in confusion in the proto-ERBList days, the persona gag might never have started. We needed a way to tell which Bruce was posting. I became Tangor of the invisible hands on keyboard and my dear friend Bruce Salen became Hadron in search of a princess. The fun of donning a favorite ERB character's name to sign messages soon infected ERBCOF-L as well as more distant electronic forums such as alt.fantasy.er-burroughs on USENET. ERBList's web site became the official repository for the ERB Persona Directory. BTW (that means "by the way") there are more than 900 UNUSED PERSONAS listed at http://www.erblist.com/ If you're looking for a persona, that's the best place to look.

The heart and soul of ERBList beats as strongly as ever as our band of ERB friends embrace via the daily exchange of ERBList messages or through face-to-face gatherings such as Burroughs Bibliophiles meetings in various parts of the country, or the annual "conventions" of Dum-Dum, ERBCOF-L, or Texas ERB Wake. Kiddies, it is memyselfi who thanks YOU for coming to play! Without all of YOU I'd be that fellow who, for nearly 30 years, thought he was the only ERB fan on the planet.

Some of the ERBList logos over the years...