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 the video tutorial  I’ve embeded below (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.

21 Comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. You can't remove them. YouTube adds them automatically depending on how you've opened/accessed the video as I've explained. You can however remove them manually by editing the video's URL to remove the last part that's added to it after the ampresand (&) then reload it. For instance if the video's url where you're seeing the highlighted tag is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo5h411G5Sk&lc=z12rhv1yatubiprsw23hwvkzxxvtd1mlm just remove the part starting with the & so that it's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo5h411G5Sk then reload the video. That should do it. You can also log out from you account and load the video anonymously but note you won't be able to comment or interact any way with the videos.

  5. Hi there. Thank you for taking the time to explain.please tell me can others see that a comment is highlighted? I posted up a video and someone commented. I checked their comment from my email I think, then their comment showed highlighted , above it. I want to know,can that person if he returns to the comments, see that his comment is highlighted? Because it looks like I highlighted it, and I dont want him or other commentators/viewers to think I highlighted that comment.

    1. No. He and for that matter anybody else won't see the comment as highlighted. The comment only got highlighted because you opened it from the email notification. As explained, the highlighting is for your convenience not for everybody. I hope that answers your question.

  6. Thanks Kelvin for this simple clear write up and this relieved me of thinking about why on earth the stupid! response to the comment is coming with Highlight! and further the questions on how to highlight! Keep writing such very useful articles for simple people answering their 'Why' and 'How'. Thanks.

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