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When you merge two adjacent quads, the previously shared vertices will still exist after merging.
So, all un-optimized meshes that are made using merge, contain redundant vertices.
Actually, when I merge two rectangle objects which have shared vertices, the redundant vertices are welded.
Haven't tested the situation in which two polygons that are already part of the same (!) object are merged though...
Sorry, I should have added the forum post:
I'm actually talking about quad-polygons that are part of the same object.