We updated the "What can I ask about here?" page a while back to remove the statement that etymology was off-topic and to instead suggest visiting EL&U for that topic in the "If you have questions about the following topics, you may want visit other Stack Exchange sites to see if they would be a better place to ask your question" section. We chose this route because there are some situations where etymology can be useful to a learner, and there are some folks in the community that are interested in asking or answering etymology questions. Much of the decision of whether to ask on ELL or EL&U depends upon what sort of answer you would like, and many learners feel more comfortable asking here.
I don't see any close votes or anyone complaining that the question was completely off-topic for ELL, so I think so far it was handled exactly as it should have been. Maybe some of the comments could be misinterpreted as being hostile to these sorts of questions, but I don't think they were intended to be.
It never hurts to revisit a discussion to make sure the community still feels the same way about it - we've had a lot of new folks join and a few veterans leave - so the consensus may have shifted.