Are you too drunk to edit?

A journalistic sobriety test for night editors, bloggers, and anyone covering an event with an open bar

Is there a test that you can self-administer to determine if you are too drunk to write or edit a post? Asking for myself in 2007. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic

Oh man. Been there!

I’ve developed a handy quiz for you.

Where are you right now?

  • a) Upright at a desk
    b) Horizontal on my bed with my laptop on my stomach
    c) Still at the bar, trying to get the CMS to load on my phone
    d) In a ditch somewhere?
  • How many drinks have you had?

  • a) 1-2
    b) 3-4
    c) 5-6
    d) Lost count
  • Which AP Style dilemma are you having?

  • a) You’re typing “Web site” instead of “website” out of habit
    b) You can’t recall if it’s “10” or “ten.” Too lazy to look it up. Maybe it’s best to just edit all the numbers out of this piece?
    c) Wondering whether AP prefers “whiskey” or “whisky”
    d) Style guides are soooo annoying. Y cant u just publish txt msgs 2 the CMS? Then you wouldn’t have to sit upright at this computer. Or rather, computers. There seem to be two. You don’t remember getting a second monitor…
  • How are you interacting with the designers who are still awake?

  • a) Begging for help in searching for stock photos
    b) Floating the idea that they just “make an infographic or something,” so you don’t have to file this copy
    c) Asking them to photoshop jars of peanut butter over Mitt Romney’s head because you’ve decided that would make a poignant illustration for this piece
    d) Sending them cat GIFs
  • What’s the overall state of your copy?

  • a) Missing a few links and containing a couple of spelling errors. Unremarkable, but passable.
    b) Riddled with TKs and bracketed phrases like [POLLING DATA GOES HERE] or [LINK TO SOURCE] or [THESIS GRAF].
    c) Blank screen. Blinking cursor
    d) It’s beautiful! Like, this is gonna win eight Pulitzers, probably! It might seem kind of tangential to the assignment, but you’re certain you’re on some next-level shit with your take on how Dr. Seuss and Dave Thomas are the true architects of America’s economic recovery
  • SCORE:
    Give yourself 1 point for every a, 2 points for every b, 3 for every c, and 4 for every d.

  • 5-7: Why did you even take this test? You’re basically sober.
    8-11: Forge ahead! But read it veeeerrrryyy slooowwwwllly, twice, before you hit publish. You can always update this sucker in the morning.
    12-15: How important is this piece, again? Probably best to hold off. If it can’t wait, click publish and hope all of your commenters were out drinking last night, too.
    16-20: Slowly close your computer and back away. Sleep it off, you lush.
  • What are some polite but damning phrases to tell writers that they can’t write? Vidal Wu

    First, I ask if they were drunk when they wrote their piece. If they respond negatively, I let RuPaul do the talking.

    In need of some #realtalk? Email your questions, conundrums, and requests to You can also follow on twitter, @editorrealtalk.

    Ann Friedman is a magazine editor who loves the internet. She lives in Los Angeles Tags: #Realtalk