I can across a job posting with a listed $8,000 budget and the following huge range in bids:
Based on the description which lists a 20 week project plan and multiple custom deliverables, the higher estimates are much more reasonable than the low estimates. The low bid would be working for less than $2 a week.
I know other countries have differnt cost of livings, and everyone has the right to set their own prices, but I do not understand why someone would come in with that low-ball of a bid.
What am I missing about the platform and the other freelancers with similar skills to myself?
What drives someone to value their services that little?
What makes you think the low-ball bidders have skills comparable to yours? There's no telling who they are. Literally.
I don't think you're missing anything that matters. I've found it pays to be proactive instead of reactive. I have zero interest in what other people bid on a project. If it's a good fit for me, I bid what it's worth and do my best to quickly engage the client so they can understand the fit and my value. If they turn out to be price-driven, then it won't be a good fit, anyway, so never mind.
I do cruise the platform a couple of times a year to scan the competition. But that's as much as I invest in that side of things. It's just not possible to parse individual proposal situations on this global platform, so don't waste time and energy trying.
That's a weird format for a posting, and it's entirely possible that the bids represent very different things--some a rate for the full project, some per deliverable, some per week or month, some (likely what appears to be the low bid) a per-hour rate.