What are Highlighted Comments in YouTube?

highlighted comments

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?

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.
From the Reply Button on the Email Notification
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.
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.

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:
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:
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.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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