What are Highlighted Comments in YouTube?

Back in October last year (2016), I encountered a rather strange error on my YouTube account - every time I tried posting a comment to reply to a user, I got the comment failed to post error. Soon I realized the error was showing up only when the Highlighted Comment tag was displaying, and by extension, though that changed later, when I was using Firefox. I wrote a post on the issue which you can find here and also made a YouTube video to show the problem.

Now, up until this time nobody knew what this tag was all about and so as you would expect, that question came up a lot in the comments section of that particular video. Being a new YouTube feature that had been served in Google’s typical ambiguous fashion, I couldn't answer that question authoritatively but in the subsequent months I've learnt a lot, partly due to the comments left there and in this blog, and so I think right now I can answer that bugging question.

I'll do this in a FAQ format. If you prefer a video explanation, you can watch this video instead.


What are Highlighted Comments?

comment
Highlighted Comment

Highlighted Comments is a label or tag that you see when you click to view or reply to a comment when you're not in a video's comment thread. In most cases it could be from the new activity YouTube notification you get on your email or from the notifications on your YouTube dashboard including the notification bell.
email
From the Reply Button on the Email Notification
dashboard
From the Comment Section in your Youtube Dashboard
notification bell
From the Notification Bell at the Top Right of Youtube

Also they come in two flavours - Highlighted comment and Highlighted reply. The latter is for replies.
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Highlighted Reply



What is the purpose of Highlighted Comments?

I suppose its simply Youtube's way of pointing out to you a specific comment. That's precisely why they called it a highlighted comment. Typically it happens when a comment you left or a comment thread you're on gets some new activity, usually a reply. Youtube then notifies you of this new activity through your email,  the notification bell or the comment section of your YouTube dashboard, in which case if you click to view the comments or reply from here, YouTube takes you to the comment thread of the video in question and puts the highlight tag on the new activity (a new reply or your comment).

So as far as I can tell, this feature is simply for our convenience and perhaps to promote more engagement in the comment section. Take for instance a video with a thousand or more comments. If you opened that video the usual way, it would take you some time to sift through all the comments just to find your previous comment or a new reply. But with this feature, the new activity notification opens the YouTube video in question and automatically takes you to the specific comment while "highlighting" it just to tell you, "this is what brought you here".

You can even trigger this tag right from the comment thread. Just click on the time stamp on any comment and you should get a Highlighted tag - Highlighted comment or Highlighted reply if it's a reply you clicked.


Who is doing this Highlighting?

First and foremost it's not the creator of the video. Other than the new features introduced (pinning comments at the top and loving a comment) the creator can only moderate comments (approve, hide, remove or mark spam). The "highlighting" is done automatically by YouTube depending on how you've opened the video as explained above.


Are Highlighted Comments bad?

Absolutely not. If that were true, technically that would make all comments potentially bad.With that said, this does raise privacy questions, especially with regards to tracking.

So I hope this somewhat answers this question. If you still don't get it, just drop me a comment below and I"ll see how else I can frame it for you.


8 comments

Are highlighted comments bad?

Your answer to this question is absolutely shallow and shortsighted. Highlighted comments serve to produce a "filter bubble" effect... that is, they isolate you from viewpoints with which you are likely to disagree, while emphasizing those with which you will probably agree.

So what's wrong with that? It tends to produce ideological echo-chambers, where people with strong ideological viewpoints become convinced that those with an opposing viewpoint are some crazy fringe element... even when their ideology is, in fact, far from a realistic portrayal of the world.

This serves to further emphasize polarization on all subjects, and to discourage dialogue to reach a middle-ground. It discourages skepticism and critical thought, because ideas that run contrary to your a priori conclusions are not presented. It does a disservice to those who may be emerging into the real world, because it leaves them unequipped to deal with adversity.

Is this making a mountain out of a molehill? I would argue that it is not, because this type of filtering is becoming dominant on the internet, from Facebook to YouTube to news outlets. And its reach is expanding. It may soon be used to decide by algorithm what results you see when you perform a Google search.

This is a step in the wrong direction. At the very least, every user should be presented the option to opt-out of this type of filtering... or better yet, to have the ability to highlight CHALLENGING posts, rather than amplifying the echo.

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I get your point, but from my experience I've found that the "Highlihted Comments" label as nothing more but a notification. Any comment can get highligted regardless of the viewpoints expressed. What matters, is how you got to the comment section in the first place; and if its through another notification (email, bell etc), which is the most obvious way since Youtube alerts the user of any new activity in the comments, you're going to get that label (on a new comment, reply etc). Open the video the usual way, like from a search engine result, and there are no highligted comments in the thread, even if you're logged into your YouTube account. Now that's not to mean that Google is not doing what you've pointed out, I just don't think these labels have anything to do with it.

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Your post/video on "Highlighted" comments was extremely helpful. It's clear, consice, & easily understood.
I think the previous person's argument is lacking/flawed because "Highlighted" comments only help users find their way among a plethora of comments on their YouTube threads. "Highlighted" comments don't stop users from reading/relying to ALL/EVERYONE ELSE'S COMMENTS & EMERGING AS ENLIGHTENED INDIVIDUALS. Only personal choice can do that!! They also don't censor user's threads in any way either. Users simply click "View All Replies" ~I'm always on my phone (Lol).
Anyway, I want to THANK YOU for your time/efforts/hard work on the video/post! They're truly amazing, I'm grateful you shared!
L.Rowe

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Thankyou for the kind words.

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I understand hilighted comments very well; in my case they are my own comments that I looked for with youTube history. I just don't know how to de-hilight them. Whenever I refresh or return to that page, they are persistent, and leave the comment out-of place among the comments of others, etc.

Reply

Try checking the link in the address bar - if it has an added parameter after your search query (some random letters/numbers starting with an ampersand(&)), try removing that part of the link then reload the page. Doing that works for videos with higlighted comments/reply so it may work for this too though I can't guarantee it. By the way, how are you searching your comments in Youtube History? I can't seem to find that option in my dashboard other than the search comments under Community >> Comments.

Reply

Thank you !! I thought it was because Logan Paul had highlighted my comment and that he had seen it but thank you so much

Reply

I answered someone back right from the video. Their comment stays highlighted. I highlighted mine by clicking on the time stamp. Mine doesn't stay highlighted, why not?

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PLEASE DO NOT SPAM

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