This is more of what I actually want to do with this feature. All things subject to change, but parts of this are from 2012 or earlier.
You can earn merit many more ways:
liking and receiving post likes (there's a daily cap on the former)
using the stream feature or the channels feature once it's done (streaming is more specialized but everyone will want to channels)
playing and particularly hosting NIFE games. You can even earn quite a bit by just working on a NIFE game provided you're adding content to it consistently. Once the writers plugin happens, you can earn by being a part of game creation in other ways.
hosting mafia games, and playing them provided you're not host-killed. You get a little merit if you are, but a lot more if you stick it out to the end
If you're on a team, you get a weekly merit "salary". There will also be a kind of me/teammate-based reviewing system so if you're more active in the team you'll get more. At the moment we have moderator, admin, and advertising teams. I also want to form an aesthetic team, a feature team and a community team. Honestly the more teams we have the better because it does what I've always done with gtx0 of promoting people that contribute to the site. Belonging to more than one team raises your salary as well, except for things like the mod/admin teams because those require a lot more than interest for membership.
Making deathmatches, surveys, polls, tips, reviews, other specialized post types
Using quirks whenever that's done.
Community-oriented tasks which I'll define at a later point (still working out details here)
making feature requests that get accepted.
Activity bonuses for things like visiting the site a certain number of days per month, posting a certain percentage of the days you visit, things like that. I want to encourage lurking but I also want to encourage doing something more than lurking. I have a nice system I'm going to install maybe today to make posting way easier.
Whenever Team Phoenix gets revived (it seems fitting to revive team phoenix rather than rename it because it is literally a phoenix), buying into that or buying it for other members will increase a good bit of merit. Team phoenix will offer some of its own perks in addition to the normal perks system, but unlike the last one I won't offer tools that are quite as disruptive, or I'll limit them heavily. Old team phoenix lifetime memberships will get revived as such, but I probably won't offer another opportunity for that unless you just do something really excessively good.
Overall I want to add merit-earning to practically everything.
Skills System / Leveling
While posting is damn important, earning merit a variety of ways is equally important, so I've got a general "skills system" in the works where you earn more specialized merit depending on the different ways you earn it. Your skills ratio gets displayed on your profile.
There's also a "leveling system", where earning a lot of merit or skills merit will make you gain levels. Leveling up will let you know instantly, should give you some kind of badge when those happen, and there will be quite a bit of fanfare too. Levels take a decent amount of work to achieve, especially skills-based ones.
Leveling up opens up the ability to buy, recharge or upgrade a Perk. Unlike TP where you just bought things and had them forever, this system gives you a limited amount of uses or makes them temporary or other limits, which can be upgraded or recharged depending on the perks you like using. I'll cover perks in a minute.
Resets and Rollovers
There's going to be some kind of system that resets merit and/or levels every so often. You'll still keep a total merit that runs up forever, but I want to put everyone on a level playing field so you could leave now, come to the site a year for now and have the same opportunities for ranking and benefits as everyone else.
I'm not sure how this works yet or how often it happens (once per month is my first thought). I'm also not sure yet what you keep and what you have to re-earn -- obviously I want to make it so you don't feel cheated. There will be some kind of rollover system as well, particularly for skills xp. I'm still working out details.
Perks are like Tools or Machines. They have limits that you must recharge or upgrade. You also have to actually buy them. I'm not sure how currency works yet but it'll be something that has to do with earning levels and particularly with having varied skills.
Here's an incomplete list of Perks:
Post distinguishing. Might be post title colors, background colors, whatever to make your threads and replies stand out.
Costumes. I'm going to bring back costumes (and improve them) for various holidays, but this perk will let you have them outside of those days, though you'll have to buy upgrades for various parts of it.
Custom post icons. A nice perk that lets you set your own post icons. With upgrades you can have more than one, edit them (they normally lock once you actually post with them), make them circular, and so on.
Post background images.
Request fast-laning. I doubt this will be upgradeable, but you'll be able to use it to fast-track feature requests that you have, provided they get accepted.
Private forums. This has been planned a long time. Basically you can make a forum and determine who can be there, set documents, etc (depending on upgrades) and whatever else forum features have. These forums don't appear on the quicklinks but there is a way of searching user forums and requesting access. They should feel a bit like upgraded secret clubs -- if they're not public they also operate outside the site moderation so you can set and enforce your own rules, provided you're not doing anything actually illegal in there. Having more than one forum is possible but it's a very very pricy upgrade.
Custom formatting. This perk gives you tools to set your own formatting codes, like a new color, the post sword-type feature TP had, custom fonts, bigger text than normal, etc. This will be kind of an itemized thing where you can buy one code at a time and will have to recharge it or upgrade its capacity.
There will probably be other stuff as well. Overall these should feel like perks and not full features that are useful elsewhere. The only place you'll actually see full features is if you get a Team Phoenix membership, though they'll still be things that aren't universally useful.