What are Highlighted Comments in YouTube?

The Highlighted tag started showing up in 2016. It got my attention after I realized that my youtube comments were failing to post  whenever the tag was visible as shown in my video demo reproducing the problem.

Now, up until this time nobody knew what the tag meant and as you would expect, that question came up a lot in the comment section of that particular video.

Being a new YouTube feature that had been rolled out 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 on 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 my video tutorial on the same (a subscribe to this blog's channel would be much appreciated).


What is the Highlighted Comment Tag?

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.
comment
Highlighted Comment

In most cases you could be coming from the new activity YouTube notification that you get on your email or from the notifications on your YouTube dashboard including the notification bell (all shown below):

1. Email New Activity Notification

email
From the Reply Button on the Email Notification

2. YouTube's Dashboard Comment Sesction
dashboard
From the Comment Section in your Youtube Dashboard

3. YouTube's Notification Bell
notification bell
From the Notification Bell at the Top Right of Youtube


What about the Highlighted Reply?

The tag comes in two flavours: a Highlighted comment and Highlighted reply.
reply
Highlighted Reply
The two work the same way and serve the same purpose, the only difference is the type of the comment: the highlighted reply will only shows up when the target comment is a 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 in the way of a new comment or reply.

Youtube usually notifies you of this new activity through your email,  the notification bell or the comment section in 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.


Who is doing the 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.



Can I Remove or Disable Highlighted Comments?

The simple answer to this is that it's not possible. YouTube does this automatically depending on how you've opened a particular video.

However, a temporary solution you could try is by editing the video's URL to remove the parameter that's added to the normal YouTube link then reload the video.

For instance, the video URL where the highlighted tag is showing will be something like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo5h411G5Sk&lc=z12rhv1yatubiprsw23hwvkzxxvtd1mlm

The parameter is the part in red starting with the ampersand symbol (&). Remove that part so that you've the normal YouTube video link as follows then reload the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo5h411G5Sk

Alternatively, you can just log out from your Google account and browse YouTube "anonymously". Of course by doing this you won't be able to leave comments or interact with the video in any way, but by doing this you should be assured of not seeing any highlighted comments.


Are Highlighted Comments bad?

Absolutely not. If that were true, technically that would make all comments potentially bad. The Highlighted tag shows up irrespective of the comment's subject matter.

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.


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