Hey, Nice Badge Ribbon Q: What has 800 brains, 25,000 years of meeting management experience, and a big mouth?

A: The hottest place for meeting chat in cyberspace, the Meeting Industry Mall's "Meeting Matters" listserv, better known as the MIMIist.

If you don't know what we're talking about, crawl out from under that rock. With more than 800 members from the meeting planning and supplier sides of the industry, MIMIisters, as they call themselves, chat online about everything from hotel negotiations to creative welcome gifts. And in a new twist, members are emerging from behind their computer monitors to meet face-to-face at industry events. How can they spot one another? MIMIist badge ribbons are the private handshake of this active online community, the nod of one MIMIister to another.

The invention of Rodman Marymor, CEO of Berkeley, Calif. - based Cardinal Communications, the MIMIist was launched in March 1999. The discussion is strictly noncommercial, with a well-known enforcer. Marymor enlisted his long-time friend Joan Eisenstodt, a Washington, D.C. - based meeting planner, as list mistress, and she rules with a white-gloved fist. As the self-described "princess of protocol," Eisenstodt is on top of any violation of listserv policy, such as attempts to mine subscribers for e-marketing purposes. No one's been thrown off the list yet, but Marymor says there have been a few close calls.

So what do 800 meetings industry people have on their minds? You name it. Current events, business news, and the great dot-com brain drain are perennial subjects, as are questions about tipping, attrition, and ROI. Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, MIMIisters are likely to have an answer to any question imaginable. Eisenstodt remembers one obscure request: Where do you find those cocktail party clips that attach to plates to hold your drink? Immediately, four people offered an answer, she says.

Eisenstodt is happy to take some of the credit for the listserv's success. She reads every single posting, which takes her up to four hours every day. "It's a passion," Eisenstodt says. "The things you love, you fit them in. I've always wanted my own salon, and this is it."

To join the chat, register at www.mim.com/mimlist.